Breakthrough for paralyzed people

Major breakthrough for paralysed people after drug that restores movement shows 'extraordinary promise'
• New drug, known as intracellular sigma peptide, or ISP, helps damaged nerve cells regenerate, allowing vital messages to be passed to muscles
• Normally, when they try to grow across a scarred and damaged spinal cord, their path is blocked by glue-like chemicals
• ISP, which is given as a daily injection, sticks to the chemicals instead
• This allows the nerves to grow and grow, say scientists in Ohio, U.S.
• Rats with badly damaged spinal cords given drug daily for seven weeks
• Their ability walk, balance and control their bladder muscles monitored
• Vast majority of rats got something back in terms of function
• Some went from barely moving to being able to walk like healthy creatures
By FIONA MACRAE, SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 18:07 GMT, 3 December 2014 | UPDATED: 20:26 GMT, 3 December 2014

Hope: Scientists believe the new treatment could one day help people regain movements lost due to spinal cord injuries
A drug could restore the gift of movement to millions of people paralysed in car crashes, sporting accidents and falls, doctors believe.
The chemical has shown 'extraordinary promise' when given to rats with severely damaged spinal cords.
Some animals went from being barely able to take a step to being able to walk almost as well as healthy creatures.
They also became more nimble and regained control of their bladder muscles.
Overall, 21 of the 26 animals improved on the drug – an unparalleled success rate.
The study, published in the journal Nature, was partly funded by the US government's health research arm – the National Institutes of Health.
Researcher Jerry Silver, a professor of neuroscience at Cape Western Reserve University, Ohio, said: 'This recovery is unprecedented.
'Each of the 21 animals got something back in terms of function.
'For any spinal cord-injured patient today, it would be considered extraordinary to regain even one of those functions.
'We're very excited at the possibility that millions of people could, one day, regain movements lost due to spinal cord injuries.'
Dr Lyn Jakeman, from the US government's health research arm, said: 'There are currently no drug therapies available that improve the very limited natural recovery from spinal cord injuries that patients experience.
'This is a great step towards identifying a novel agent for helping people recover.'
Each year, thousands of people around the world lose the ability to walk after road accidents damage the spinal cord, blocking the transmission of vital messages between the brain and legs.
Many more are left paralysed after falls and sporting accidents.
Many people will see slight improvements in their condition initially but most will be left with some sort of disability.

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Breakthrough: The drug, known as intracellular sigma peptide, has shown 'extraordinary promise' when given to rats with severely damaged spinal cords (a spinal cord section is pictured)
The most severely injured will have lost the use of all their limbs and be unable to breathe without the help of a respirator.
The new drug, which is known as intracellular sigma peptide, or ISP, helps damaged nerve cells regenerate, allowing vital messages to be passed to the muscles.
We're very excited at the possibility that millions of people could, one day, regain movements lost due to spinal cord injuries'
Normally, when they try to grow across a scarred and damaged spinal cord, their path is blocked by glue-like chemicals.
ISP, which is given as a daily injection, sticks to the chemicals instead, allowing the nerves to grow and grow.
When rats with badly damaged spinal cords were given a shot of the drug every day for seven weeks and their ability walk, balance and control their bladder muscles monitored.
Remarkably, some of the animals saw improvement in all three skills.
Dr Silver said: 'We set a very high bar to be considered to have "recovered".
'Some animals moved so well that they could hardly be distinguished from normal.
'This is very promising. We now have an agent that may work alone or in combination with other treatments to improve the lives of many.'
Further research is needed to understand why the drug worked on some animals and not on others.
ISP is also being tested on other conditions in which scarred tissue hinders recovery, including heart attacks.

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